“To be a great writer, you just have LOVE writing. You have to be passionate about it, so you’re going to do it a lot.”
“When I write a story, I want it to get as big an audience as possible.”
“I don’t have any problem whatsoever with being a shameless self promoter. I know a lot of writers who don’t like to do that.”
“I think some people who are super competitive can also get jealous of people who are more successful.”
“I love it when people who I like and respect and like to read, I love it when their stuff gets big.”
“If you hang around long enough, you’re gonna understand what the story is.”
“I feel good justifying my own survival by telling the stories of those who didn’t survive.”
It’s The Creative Nonfiction Podcast, the show where I speak with the world’s best artists—journalists, documentary filmmakers, essayists, memoirists, and radio producers—about creating works of nonfiction.
Have we got a good one for you today. Episode 64 with journalist Matt Tullis (@matttullis) on Twitter. His first book, Running With Ghosts: A Memoir of Surviving Childhood Cancer published by The Sager Group, tells the story of how Matt got slammed with a form of leukemia at age fifteen, and subsequently what he did what that survival as many of his friends, who had previously been in remission, started passing away as the cancer came back. A couple of Matt’s caretakers, people who spent hours, and weeks, and months ensuring his survival, also died of cancer leaving Matt to wonder why he was spared.
There were several times in this book that burned your host’s eyes, not gonna lie, but Matt honors his life and his friends by turning his reporter’s eye inward, and outward, telling the story of his life and his friends.
Matt is a professor at Fairfield Univeristy and host of Gangrey the Podcast. His work has appeared in SB Nation Longform among many other places.
You’re gonna dig this episode as we talk about what it takes to be a great writer, letting events unfold in the face of preconceived expectations, competition, jealousy, and self promotion.
Bronwynn Dean stopped by the podcast to talk about the power of performance and her work-in-progress about the world of marijuana. It’s titled Potted.
Her work has appeared in Pitkin Review and Soundings Review. She cites Hunter S. Thompson and Tom Wolfe as major influences and I think you’ll dig how she was able to be the only one of about forty writers to land an agent. What went right? What was wrong about the other 39? Good stuff.
Okay, friends, you know the drill: Please leave a nice review over at iTunes and sign up for my monthly newsletter where I give out my book recommendations. It’s short, to the point, no spam.
Share this with a friend and sit back and enjoy Bronwynn Dean.
“What can I do with the tools I was given as opposed to the tools I was expecting?”
“If a story is just exactly what I expected it would be, I don’t think of that as all that interesting.”
“Entrepreneur, I had the instincts of an entrepreneur.”
“OK, this is how you do it…you make a connection, you think of stories that would work for a bigger audience.”
“In very practical terms, if you’re gonna be a person doing longform journalism, you will be running a small business.”
“Look at it as a business you’re running, but you also happen to be the raw material the business is producing.”
“Each story starts from zero. It never stops being exciting.”
Hello, CNF-buddies, it’s The Creative Nonfiction Podcast, the show where I speak with the world’s best artists about creating works of nonfiction—journalists, essayists, memoirists, radio producers, and documentary film makers—and how you can use their tools of mastery and apply it to your own work.
That’s right, you are in for a treat. Well, let’s face it, you’ve always been in for a treat, but this week you’re in for an Easter basket and Halloween sack all rolled into one verifiably true candy locker.
What are some takeaways? Susan talks about always having an audience in mind, having supreme focus, and needing to see yourself as a business person if you plan on doing this type of work and that it’s actually freeing, not stifling, in order to do the kind of work that excites you and feeds your ambitions.
Before we get to that, I ask that you please subscribe to the podcast, share it with a friend, and leave a rating or, ideally, a nice review on iTunes, like this one from Meredith May. She said, “Real conversations among professional writers about the essence of craft. A behind the scenes look at the way stories come together, from inception to publication, that doesn’t shy away from the truth about the difficulties and triumphs of making a living from words. One of the hardest concepts for my podcasting students to grasp is how differentiate between a story and a topic—this podcast helps them find that X-factor that makes a story sing.”
Wow. Shoutout to that five-star review. If you leave one, I might just read it on the air! It’s time for the show, episode 61 with Susan Orlean!
“I love the work. It’s my passion. Aside from raising my son, it’s the most satisfying thing I do.”
“In many ways the biggest challenge to figure out if you’re gonna be a writer of nonfiction is to figure out what stories you can tell that no one else has told before.”
“You have to select people who want to be written about.”
“The change is everything. The change is the story.”
“The test of any great writer is keeping going and not letting however you see failure as a way of stopping you.”
“We are not writing for ourselves. We’re writing for the bigger world.”
Hey, hey, it’s The Creative Nonfiction Podcast! This is the show where I interview the world’s best artists about creating works of nonfiction: documentary film, personal essay, memoir, narrative journalism, killer profiles, and reportage and dive into the origin story, what makes them great, and how you can apply their strategies of mastery to your own work.
Today’s guest for Episode 60 (!) of The Creative Nonfiction Podcast is none other than the Godfather, Lee Gutkind.
His tagline on his website is Writer. Speaker. Innovator. He’s written or edited 49 books like Almost Human, The Best Seat in the House But You Have to Stand: The Game as Umpires See It, Truckin’ With Sam.
He also founded the lit journal/now magazine Creative Nonfiction, which is an incredible well of great writing.
What are you gonna learn from this episode? Lee tells you that you need to figure out what stories and YOU can tell that no one else has done before. How to find the people who want their stories told, and how to perservere in the face of untold failure.
That’s a some good, good stuff.
Before we dive into the interview, I ask that you leave a review on iTunes or even just a rating. Reviews are icing on the cake, but the more ratings, the more cred, the more people we can reach. Also, I have an email newsletter that I send out once a month. It’ gives my reading list for the month and what you may have missed from the podcast.
Share this with a friend because I know you’re gonna dig it!
Hello, friends, fellow CNFers, it’s The Creative Nonfiction Podcast, the show where I speak with the world’s best artists about creating works of nonfiction and the actionable insights they share to help you with your work.
For this episode, Jess reads the essay in its entirety and she gives a knockout performance. I noodled around with music for a bit, but I couldn’t find the perfect tracks for it, so I just let it stand: Jess simply reading her wonderful essay.
Before we get to her reading I want to ask you something: What are you struggling with? Is there something in your work that’s giving you trouble or are you hitting road blocks? I want to know. Ping me on Twitter or email me. Maybe I can help.
Also, be sure to share this with a friend, leave a review on iTunes if you got any value out of this, and let me know if you dig these author readings.
“If I had tried to line together four or five of these [short chapters], it might feel cumulatively too dense or heavy.”
“That’s such a nice thing about writing, isn’t it? It’s exciting for me because I don’t know where the piece is going to go and beyond that I don’t know who it’s going to connect with if it will at all. Sometimes it doesn’t. But when it does, it’s sort of amazing.”
“I don’t really have a plan. I follow the leads of memory and curiosity and go with it.”
“They haven’t tried to kill me, but they haven’t thrown me a party either.”
“The thing that makes an essay work and seem like a miracle is the thing that makes it seem so painful as well.”
Sonja Livingston stopped by The Creative Nonfiction Podcast to talk about her award-winning memoir “Ghostbread.” She was also gracious enough to read from three short chapters. It’s about family and growing up in poverty.
“[My family] hasn’t tried to kill me, but they haven’t thrown me a party either,” Sonja says.
This episode is layered and a bit experimental. I hope it adds a little extra somethin’-somethin’ to the usual interview. If you dig it, let me know on Twitter @BrendanOMeara and I’ll invite others to try something similar.
In this episode we talk about how stories come to her, how she stays attuned to the world, naked bike rides, and the power of performing for an audience and the validation that ushers.
This is the last episode before my 37th birthday. Wanna give something to me? Leave a review on iTunes. You don’t even have to wrap it. The best part? It’s free and takes less than a minute. Can’t beat that right?
“If you want tenacity, get the fuck off social media!”
“I’ve been writing five-six days a week for 35 years without fail.”
“The truth is, if you want to write or create anything worth a damn, you better embrace failure or you’re not going to get to the good stuff.”
“It’s an act of generosity to give the reader less.”
“Anything written to please the author is worthless.”
“The central thing about writing I find most joyous is that it’s an act of discovery.”
“[Richard Russo] said, ‘If it were me, I’d ask, am I trying to hurt anyone with this book? Am I trying to settle scores?'”
Andre Dubus III, author the memoir Townie and the novels House of Sand and Fog and Dirty Love, stopped by the podcast to talk about memoir, the essay, and writing in general.
“The truth is, if you want to write or create anything worth a damn, you better embrace failure or you’re not going to get to the good stuff. You gotta learn to love how hard it is,” he says.
This episode is so packed with great, actionable, and inspiring material from a “made” writer, meaning he built himself into the writer he wanted to be. If you think you don’t have time to write, just wait until you hear him talk about how he found the time to write his breakout novel House of Sand and Fog. Talk about rigor.
Please review the podcast iTunes and pass this along to a friend you think will get something out of it. If your friend is a writer, I know s/he will get something out of this episode.